Argentina says telecom reforms to draw $20 bln; companies prepare
By Eliana Raszewski
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Even though new rules have not yet been implemented, telecom companies in Argentina are preparing for a more competitive market as the government expects reforms to attract $20 billion in investments over four years.
Telecom Argentina and Telefonica de Argentina have announced investments in recent months, while Argentina's largest media conglomerate, Grupo Clarin, is spinning off subsidiary Cablevision SA, saying in August it could better face competition as a stand-alone unit.
Communications Minister Oscar Aguad told Reuters companies, including Motorola and AT&T Inc, have expressed interest in investing in Argentina, which would mean better services and lower costs for consumers.
"As long as we are able to dictate a norm with clear rules, I think the figure of $5 billion a year is possible," Aguad told Reuters, adding that the investment level should continue for four years. The new rules take effect in 2018.
AT&T declined to comment while Motorola Mobility said Argentina is an important market and it continues to look for opportunities here.
The telecom reform is one of many changes on President Mauricio Macri's agenda as he tries to drive investment into an economy that was highly regulated, cut off from capital markets and therefore largely ignored by investors for a decade.
Shortly after taking office, Macri signed a decree to allow phone companies to offer paid television services, an area that has long been dominated by Cablevisión, Groupo Clarin's internet, cable TV and data transmission subsidiary.
In addition to allowing telephone companies to enter the cable TV market, Macri's government plans to sponsor a new communications law next year that would encourage technological development and competition, according to Silvana Giudici, head of Argentina's telecom regulator. Continuación...